German Sergeant serving in Royal Marines 1797-1814

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 German Sergeant serving in Royal Marines 1797-1814

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    Clare D

    Hi, I am new here and excited to join this group that I didn’t know existed until today!

    I am doing research into Ferdinand Propsting, a German man who served aboard HMS Acasta and HMS Albion as a sergeant in the Royal Marines (I am unsure yet if he served on any other ships).

    I have found Greenwich Out-Pensioner records for him suggesting he served for over 18 years and was wounded in both hands (I don’t know yet in what capacity he was wounded). My main problem is that on the muster rolls for HMS Acasta it confirms that he was born in Germany and on the 1841 census when he lived in Barnet, it notes that he was ‘born of foreign parts’. HMS Acasta is the earliest possible detail I can find for him (signed onto HMS Acasta in April 1797 at Chatham headquarters at the age of 28). There doesn’t seem to be any exact matches for a Ferdinand/Frederick Propsting (or Propstring) on German birth records either.

    1. I was wondering how a German would come to be serving with the marines and his likely route to the UK?

    2. Is it likely he had already had a military career in Germany before coming to the UK as he was 28 and already a sergeant in 1797?

    3. Was it possible that there were positions for marines that meant he could stay ashore?

    Thank you for any help!

    David Hepper

    I am no expert on the Marines at all, but in response to your first question, I believe that it was not unusual for German citizens to be serving at this time. I presume because the King was also still the Elector of Hanover.
    The Attestation papers are revealing. They are forms that marines completed, confirming or attesting, that they were willing to serve anywhere. I don’t think all survive, but those that do can be seen If you check using the Discovery on the National Archives –

    And type in Germany for the word you wish to find – with search references ADM 157 and ADM 158 – you will find over 200 German nationals in the Marines

    Don’t forget that the British Army had a German regiment, the Kings German Legion, serving at the time. See:

    Sam Willis

    Some interesting replies on our FB page:

    Ric Smith: ‘The Royal Marines have plenty
    Of records at the public Records Office at Kew. The other place to try is the Royal Navy Museum at Portsmouth where the records from the Royal Marine Barracks went to upon its closure.’

    Emma Cooper: ‘Just found some pension info through Find My Past. If you use the name Propstring, he was an outpensioner from 19 May 1814 (No 1372) then briefly in Greenwich Hospital before becoming an out pensioner again from 26 Aug. 1836 (No 3035). Slight warning with ‘Find My Past’ – if their records are split into left-hand and right-hand pages….. they are not always in the right sequence. There was a reference (ADM 96) which said that he was a CHATHAM marine.’

    Found a few German marines…..Plymouth ADM 158/239 –

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